Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
USA,, , , , Screenplay by Cinematography by Produced by , , , Music by , , Boots Riley, Production Design by Costume Design by Film Editing by
This surreal comedy of love and business takes its examination of racism and economics into the realm of magic realism for an effect that is as funny as it is thought-provoking. Lakeith Stanfield is excellent as a man in need of improvement, unemployed and living in his uncle’s garage until he accepts that most unappealing of jobs for the desperate, working as a telemarketer. After a colleague lets him in on a best-kept secret, that putting on a “white voice” when talking to customers guarantees sales (at which point his dialogue is dubbed by David Cross), Stanfield is declared a top seller and is well on his way up in the corporate world. His material success, which is predicated on treating his own racial identity as something less valuable, causes problems with his socially conscious girlfriend ( ) and best friend ( ), who are taking part in their workplace’s efforts to unionize. Moving up to the level of top salespeople, Stanfield eventually comes to realize that his company may have something to do with the unethical practices of an Amazon-like merchandising corporation, and the challenge now becomes the choice between personal comfort and social responsibility. In description it might sound preachy, but in execution the bright colours and lively characters make it a humorous exploration of America’s capitalist shortcomings whose creative flourishes constantly outdo themselves. At some point in the final act there’s a bit of sag to the plot’s moving forward, but for the most part it plays like less obnoxious Michel Gondry.
Critics Choice Award Nominations: Best Comedy; Best Actor in a Comedy (Lakeith Stanfield)